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Man's severed hand attached to his ankle

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Severed hand (Rex Features)
Severed hand (Rex Features)

Doctors have kept a Chinese man's severed hand alive by stitching it to his ankle after a work accident severed it. Xiao Wei's right hand was reportedly temporarily attached to his left ankle for a month before surgeons reattached it, largely because injuries to his arm required immediate attention before the reattachment surgery.

A report from Rex Features reveals Wei's injuries were "severe," with his left arm flattened in the accident. The hand was kept alive thanks to a blood supply from arteries in Wei's leg. Surgeons were able to successfully replant it on his arm, and doctors say Wei will require several operations that they're hopeful will help him regain full function of his hand. The innovative procedure, known as temporary ectopic implantation, allows doctors to recover amputated limbs with reconstructive microsurgery.

"The concept of saving a severed part of the body by attaching it to another part of the body to give it a blood supply is well recognized," says Cairian Healy of the Royal College of Surgeons in England in an interview with BBC News. Healy notes that procedures like this are rare, but not unheard of, and that Chinese doctors are "pretty experienced in microsurgery." Following a car accident, Chinese doctors recently grew a nose on a man's forehead to surgically form a replacement for his damaged nose.